Sunday, 15 December 2013

Clawing it back after Christmas

For my regular reader (singular) you'll notice a common theme - I am not a fan of Christmas. Never have been, never will be. For me it just conjures up memories of long periods of small talk and spending loads of my own money on things for other people so they can spend an equal amount on me and get me something I don't even want or like. Logically it makes no sense. I'm definitely up for thinking up ways of clawing back some of the expenditure after Christmas, usually this takes the form of returning gifts to shops and then spending the proceeds on something useful for the boys. If it's from M&S it's even better as I can exchange it for some champers or little tiny pies or beef burgers. Yum.

Anyway, back to clawing back some money after Chrimble. Here's my top five:-
1) the obvious thing is the local facebook buying and selling groups. First thing on Boxing day, start listing all the unwanted toys and trinkets, you'll be quids in.
2) Like a bit of Cash in the Attic? Have a hunt around your own (or your parents') house for some potentially valuable antiques, take a look on Value My Stuff and job's a good 'un!
3) Fancy yourself a bit of a writer? Take a look at Yahoo Contributors network - £20 per article and you can do one in ten mins if you're quick, awesome!
4) Do the usual - freeze all your energy prices, ring down suppliers and don't accept what you hear!
5) Give up booze and takeaways! You'll save loads of money PLUS it's better for you. Take walks in your local area for a month rather than actually going anywhere, say hello to every single person you meet and spread the community spirit.

How else do you plan to claw back some of the expenditure of Christmas?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The softest blanket in town...

Until fairly recently I've never been a fan of blankets, I find them rather annoying and apt to fall on the floor all the time, which necessitates me picking them up. Fail. However now that I work from home full time I do get rather cold in the winter months and I absolutely will NOT put the heating on when it's only me in the house. My husband finds it rather amusing that I sit at my desk with a blanket over my knees, but it keeps me warm and I love it!

I was therefore pretty happy to be send this GORGEOUS Soak and Sleep throw and I must say I love it.

Throw tastic! Cuddling up for Winter!

Goes perfectly with our sofa which is leather and cold, we've also had it over our duvet at night time.
I think at £46.00 this is really good value as this is a silk throw and you can really tell the difference, it's both super soft and warm too. It also comes in its own little carrying case so you can package it up during Summer.

I hate being cold so I also like it in the evenings when I'm watching a film or something and I can just lie in and on it. My sons also love it as they play hide and seek underneath it and mess around generally with it! I honestly cannot say anything negative at all to say about this throw, I don't think I will ever go back to any other sort of blanket ever again!

I was gifted this throw for the purpose of this review but all thoughts are my own.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The cost of cars...

I'm always looking for new ways to save money and one of the biggest expenses in my life is most definitely my car. A while ago I got rid of my Astra as it was simply costing me so much in petrol, I really didn't need a 1.6 engine and so settled for a funky new red Ford Fiesta. I don't actually own the car as I have a lease arrangement in place, this probably isn't the cheapest way of doing things, but it works for me and I pay £104 a month for a brand new car that is INCREDIBLY fuel efficient. Over the years I have found a few ways of saving money on everyday motoring (can't believe I just used that word!) and so I thought I would share them with you!

1) Keep your tyres pumped up and do it regularly. It makes a real difference to fuel consumption and makes your car safer too.

2) This is obvious, but unless you really need it keep that air con and heaters switched off! As every contact lense wearer will tell you, they are really drying for the eyes and skin, bad for the environment and will cost you money in petrol costs!

3) Collect vouchers and loyalty cards for petrol stations and use them wherever possible. Sainsburys quite often 6p off  a litre if you shop with them which is a good deal. Obviously weigh it up to ensure it is a genuine saving, sometimes they can be a little misleading.

4) If you need new tyres, don't just bob down to your local Kwikfit, like anything, it pays to be prepared. Google cheap tyres and book that way. I've heard is quite good though I've never tried it myself.

5) GLIDE! Don't race towards red traffic lights and always reverse into spaces if you can. The reduction in revs will help you to save petrol.

6) Service your car regularly. It will cost you less in the long run (as we found out last year!) and should also help your car stay fuel efficient.Safer too.

7) If something does go wrong with your car, don't just take it to your nearest garage, shop around with a website like Post a job, get quotes and this also includes mobile mechanics who can help you out at home! Perfect for people who either work from home and/or have small children. Ace!

Do you have any tips for saving money on cars? Share here!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

De-cluttering for 2014

De-cluttering and organising your home is one of the most therapeutic things you can do. Not only is the whole process quite calming, you are left with a wonderfully clean and tidy home in which everything has its right place. The New Year is the perfect time for fresh starts and a new way of living, and a big part of that is starting how you mean to go on. Spending a bit of time during December clearing out things that you no longer want or need is a great way to make way for Christmas, and get your home ready for a new start in 2014.

Be ruthless

A proper de-cluttering mission involves working your way methodically through each room, making decisions on each and every item in each area. Work out if the things you find are things you really need, or have just kept hold of out of habit. A good rule of thumb is if you haven’t used it in the past year, you probably don’t need it. The same goes for things you forgot you had, they obviously weren’t that important to you in the first place. There is no room to start keeping random things “just in case”. Be ruthless and only keep what you really need and you’ll be well on your way to reclaiming your home.

Waste not-want not

Just because you don’t want something, doesn’t mean that someone else might not. The expression, “one man’s trash is anothers treasure” is often true, and something you’ve cast off as useless could make you some money in the right market. When you’ve decided what to get rid of, sort it into different groups. Large items you might want to try to sell locally on online platforms or in the local paper, smaller items can go on eBay to reach a wider market, and things that you don’t want to sell that are still in good nick can go on to the charity shop – anything else you can bin.

Replace important things

On your mission you may well find things that need throwing out, but that must be replaced. Kids wardrobes are a top place for this - when you have cleared out 30 items of ill fitting clothes you are going to have to replace them somehow. As it is the school holidays it is the prime time to check uniform too and replace shirts, shoes and everything else, binning the old ones. If you don’t want to spend a fortune you can buy everything you need in the supermarket, from George's boys school shoes to girl’s tights and backpacks, so you can bin, replace and refresh with no hassle.

Once you have ditched all your clutter you need to remember to keep it that way. Think about every purchase you make and remember where you have decided to keep your existing things so you can put everything back in its right place. It’s much easier to keep a tidy home that way rather than starting the process over, so make sure you are organised and maximise the space you have. All being well you should be well on your way to a clutter-free 2014!

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Christmas at home or away?

It's that time of year again when I start looking at my bank balance and crying, at the same time as desperately needing to spend money. They say these things come in threes and we've had woe of a month starting with car taxing and MOTing followed by a HIDEOUS gas leak which ended up costing us £800. Admittedly I had smelt gas in the downstairs of our house for quite a while but everyone kept saying it was in my mind. We had it checked out and it turned out there was, indeed, a leak! Initially the whole of the foundations of the house were going to be destroyed to locate the pipes but in the end, British Gas just inserted new pipes in the floor boards, though it still cost us a pretty penny as these things always do.

Anyway, back to money woes, as my regular reader (singular) knows, Christmas is not at all my kind of year. I am not one of those girly girls who goes all gushy about Christmas, quite the opposite in fact, I find the whole thing a bit drag and being nice to people for day son end quite a strain. What I would love more than anything is to get away from it all and actually go away for Christmas. I'm not sure exactly how I would go about doing this in a stress free way, but one way would be to go to London for a few days. There were years that went by when I didn't go to London at all, but in the last twelve months I've been about eight times and it is quite a trek from here too. I love the busyness, the fact that there is so much choice, the quality of things, it's awesome. I'd love for the boys to come with us next time so they can experience all the touristy things, so naturally I'm looking at cheap hotels in London as otherwise the cost can be prohibitive.

Thinking about all the places we'd take them to: Buck House, Westminster, The London Eye, Tower of London etc, so much choice!

Would you take young children to London, is it a mistake? What do we do in the evening?!

Monday, 2 December 2013

My Ideal Wedding Meal!

This blog post is my entry to win a night away at an amazing hotel called Stanley House Hotel and Spa. I've been given the awesome job of designing my perfect wedding breakfast (though I should point out I am already married) which is no chore as far as I'm concerned!

For our wedding, over seven years ago, I'm ashamed to say that I can't actually remember what we ate, I honestly can't. To be honest I don't think I ate much as my dress was very tight indeed.

In a perfect world, if I had all the money ever then I would definitely start with my most favourite entree of all time - scallops with black pudding and cauliflower puree, it's just something I never ever tire of. Hubby keeps talking to me about pate and crusty bread which I personally feel would be an error in case there are any pregnant women in the room.

In terms of a main course I have two, I can't choose between them: rib of beef with horseradish mash OR duck in a port and plum sauce with potato gratin with spinach and green beans.
For dessert I would tarte tatin with a calvodos sauce and a mascapone ice cream - yum! It all sounds rather French doesn't it which is no surprise since I love French cuisine.

For drinks I would go for a glass of Sancerre with the starter; a Pinot Noir with the Duck main course and a glass of demi sec champagne with the dessert - or possibly a glass of Calvodos.

What would your favourite wedding meal be?

This is my entry into the Stanley House wedding menu competition. Find out more at:


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